Diaspora at War

The Chinese of Singapore between Empire and Nation, 1937-1945


Author: Ernest Koh
Much of what has been written on Singapore's wartime past is set against the Japanese invasion and occupation of the island. In Diaspora at War: The Chinese of Singapore between Empire and Nation 1937 - 1945, Ernest Koh maps a war history that is far wider in geographical and temporal scope. From the skies over Western Europe and the Mediterranean to the Burma Road, from the Atlantic Ocean to the cities of China, individuals and small groups of Chinese from the British colony worked, fought, and flew in a variety of fighting and labour units. Drawing from oral history accounts and archival sources, Koh recovers a rich and insightful historical reality that has long been submerged under the weight of a teleological national narrative.

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Ernest Koh, Ph.D (2007), Monash University, is Senior Lecturer in History at Monash University. He is the author of Singapore Stories: Language, Class, and the Chinese of Singapore (Cambria: 2010), and co-editor of Oral History and Memory in Southeast Asia (PalgraveMacmillan: 2013).
"Told vividly through the use of oral history interviews and family history accounts, as well as archival material, Diaspora at War adds a new dimension that has been missing from the military history of World War II. Through penetrating analysis and skillful probing of individual testimony, the author explains the motives of men who went to war before the war came to them."
Kevin Blackburn, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

" Diaspora at War opens up a new approach at looking at the Chinese in Malaya during the war. This conceptualization of three fronts - China, empire and pacific - is interesting and poses significant advancement in looking at the Chinese diasporas."
Ho Khai Leong, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia

"...an important contribution to the field." "...a meaningful offering for the intellectual and socio-political landscape of Singapore."
Huang Jianli, National University of Singapore, Asian Studies Review Vol. 39, No. 1 (2015), 158-177
Chapter One: Nation, Remembrance, and Singapore's Second World Wars
Chapter Two: Britain, China, and the Creation of Chinese Diasporas in Malaya
Chapter Three: The Sino-Japanese War
Chapter Four: The Imperial War
Chapter Five: The Pacific War
Chapter Six: Forgotten Frames
All interested in the history of the Chinese overseas, World War Two history, the history of the British Empire during the Second World War, the Sino-Japanese War, and Malayan/Singapore history.